Socially they are all over the spectrum from losers & winners within the same school
Psychologically the developmental patterns are all over the map depending on home life, school setting, life experiences and even all that has shifted even in the past 10 years.
Spiritually they teeter totter from concrete to abstract development and for some comic book life is reality.
Mentally they wanna be kids, yet try to be "all grown up". They think they have all answers to life problems until they realize it is lunch time. Then they forget even how to eat a sandwich & drink a glass of water without getting distracted.
Physically...well they smell. Then they try to navigate puberty changes that force a unique pressure on their brain, body as well as tear ducts. They also have to wonder why their shoe size is a 12 yet they are only 4'7" tall.
I feel like herding squirrels being blind folded while walking along the seaside cliffs of the ocean...yep it can feel that difficult. Especially with how American culture as caffeinated, drugged, over hyped, under emotionally supported & given freedom to laziness in this up-n-coming generations. Then there is the effect multi-media & technology has had on the lack of formative patience as well as perspective it has stolen from families & young people.
But in midst of all of this Jr High ministry gives me HOPE. It gives me hope that there will be a desire in young people to not trash can their faith before they get a drivers license.
HOPE that those who grow up in the church won't act like it, but they'll care about community more than sacred cows of tradition.
HOPE that we'll see students (ages 11-20) quit borrowing faith from other people & wrestle with their own.
HOPE that the life giving gospel of Jesus is still at work centuries later from Him walking this earth.
Jr High students, regardless of the oddness they encompass with themselves, allows me to look towards the future with curiosity & wonder how those that embrace the faith journey with Jesus today will structure the church of tomorrow. I day dream that it will look nothing like today, but with much more passion & zeal for the things that matter to the heart of God.
I get excited that the 12 year old today man/woman will be the 22 year old elder in 10 years. The 13 year old zit faced punk will be leading hundreds in worship in less than a decade. The 14 year old who has to repeat 8th grade twice, will answer a call to board a plane to serve Jesus across the world after high school.
HOPE is a powerful tool to keep one loving the future of youth ministry!